While getting a good first job especially after a J-1 visa can be overwhelming and challenging, it’s not impossible by any means. You have already matched at an Architecture firm! The hardest part of the whole process is now complete.
1. Take USMLE Step 3 as soon as possible and try to get an H-1B visa.
This first tip is for people applying for or already in the process of visa conversion. Reach out to the program directors during your interview and afterward regarding visa support. Once you have matched, reach out to the program again to make sure everything is in place for you to start on time. If you are on a J-2 or any other visa, convert to H-1B, if possible. During fellowship, try to go on an O-1 visa instead of converting to J-1. Basically, stay away from the J-1 visa if you can.
2. Assess the marketability of subspecialties before choosing.
You should, of course, try to get a fellowship in the subspecialty you love, but also consider whether it offers decent job opportunities. Talk to your mentors, junior faculty, and recent graduates to understand the current and potential future job market in your desired subspecialty early on in your residency. Use this information to make an informed choice, and do not apply to a fellowship because it is popular right now. Also, sign up on various job sites and watch the trends of the job market.
3. Know what kind of job you’re looking for: academic vs private.
Reach out to the private groups or pathology department chairs well in advance, if you are restricted geographically.
4. Network, network, network!
Keep in touch with your fellow pathology graduates and others who were or are in a similar situation. Go to conferences and participate in national organizations such as the CAP, ASCP, and USCAP.
5. Be receptive to extra responsibilities in your new job.
Have a strong base in residency. Use your electives in fellowships to broaden your experience, which might be helpful for your future practice.
6. Favor an employer who has dealt with J-1 waivers.
Once you have offers, you want an employer who knows what is expected from them. The paperwork is complicated and overwhelming, and an experienced employer who has a good lawyer is a blessing.
7. Build your CV during residency to be eligible for an O-1 visa.
The J-1 waiver may not work due to visa disapproval, etc. If this happens, you can always apply for a J-1 waiver in the next few years in the same or a different job after starting on the O-1.
Your residency and fellowships will soon be successfully completed; better times are in your future. Once you get a job, pay it forward and make sure you help your juniors and colleagues seeking J-1 waiver jobs. Good luck, everyone!
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